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Trump: Afghan peace talks are 'dead'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that talks with Afghanistan's Taliban leaders are off and that he was still considering a U.S. troop drawdown in the country.
"They're dead. They're dead. As far as I'm concerned, they're dead," Trump said of the talks, speaking with reporters as he left the White House for North Carolina.
Months of U.S. negotiations with the Taliban militants, who control large parts of Afghanistan, ended on Saturday when Trump abruptly announced he was canceling secret talks at Camp David with the Taliban and the country's president, Ashraf Ghani. The talks were aimed at securing an agreement to pull U.S. troops out after nearly 20 years of war.
A draft accord agreed last week would have seen about 5,000 American troops withdrawn over coming months in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the United States or its allies.
Despite the Afghan government's wariness of negotiating with the Taliban, Trump had hoped having both parties at the presidential compound in Maryland could produce an agreement.
Trump said he knew the gathering could not take place after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack last week that killed an American soldier in the capital Kabul.
The end of the talks has fueled fears of a further increase in violence across Afghanistan.
Fighting continued in the region even as talks took place, with the Taliban stepping up attacks in recent weeks. An American general said on Monday the U.S. military is likely to accelerate the pace of its operations in Afghanistan to counter the upsurge.
Bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan has been one of Trump's main foreign policy objectives, and the Republican president said his administration was still thinking about a drawdown of the 14,000 U.S. soldiers in the country.
"We'd like to get out but we'll get out at the right time," he said.
Afghan President Ghani, who was sidelined from months of negotiations between U.S. officials and Taliban representatives, had been deeply suspicious of the talks, which sought to agree a timetable for an American withdrawal.
On Monday, Ghani made a renewed call for peace but insisted the Taliban must observe a ceasefire, as he sought to regain a hold on the peace process.
Meanwhile, Trump defended his decision to offer up the historic Camp David compound to a militant group that harbored Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and is still killing Americans, so close to the 18th anniversary of the 2001 attacks.
"Camp David's held meetings with a lot of people that would have been perceived as being pretty tough customers and pretty bad people," he said. "There have been plenty of so-called bad people brought up to Camp David for meetings. And the alternative was the White House, and you wouldn't have been happy with that either."
Located in the Catoctin Mountains outside Washington, the Camp David retreat has been used to host foreign dignitaries and was the site of landmark peace efforts, including when President Bill Clinton hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice in Washington; Hamid Shalizi and Hameed Farzad in Kabul; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Jonathan Oatis)
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.
Editor's note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia announced on Monday it would hold a large test of its Strategic Missile Forces that will see it fire ballistic and cruise missiles from the land, sea and air this week.
The exercise, from Oct. 15-17, will involve around 12,000 military personnel, as well as aircraft, including strategic nuclear bombers, surface ships and submarines, Russia's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.